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There are few academic fields with greater practical application than the study of law. Virtually every individual in the United States will require the expertise of an attorney at some point in his or her life, especially with respect to civil matters, be they property disputes, conflicts stemming from a vehicle accident, attempts at wresting restitution from a medical facility for a botched surgical procedure, or any of numerous other differences that arise in most lives. Knowledge of civil litigation will come in handy at some point. In the realm of public sector social services, such knowledge will be relevant on a daily basis. Disputes among and between families, especially between divorced parents over the welfare status of children, or between birth and adoptive or foster parents regarding the final placement of a child are common developments in social services. When criminal law is not an issue, and civil or family courts are the likely venue for resolution of disputes, then the more one understands about civil law the better off he or she will be. While social workers, depending upon the individual state, may be barred from providing legal advice (in Minnesota, for example, guardians ad litem are prohibited from doing so), in other states many social workers and guardians ad litem are lawyers, or at least are trained in legal matters. Some universities, for example, offer graduate degrees in legal jurisprudence that are routinely pursued by social workers.
In short, the more the social worker knows about the law, the less likely he or she will be to inadvertently violate the law, and the more helpful such individuals will be in serving the communities to which they are assigned. From the perspective of a supervisor, steering staff members away from courses that, if followed, would result in legal transgressions, or advising those staff members away from courses of action that could result in civil liability is more than a little beneficial to all concerned. All matter of public service institutions maintain lawyers on their payroll for precisely these reasons. We live in a very litigious society, and knowing the law is very important.
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